Designs on the future

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 March, 2012, 12:00am


Companies struggling to cut down on rental expenditure can consider moving to a cheaper location or redesigning their offices to save space.

'Relocation or redesign is not an administrative task,' says Eric Legere, director of strategic design with international design firm M Moser. 'Decision-makers should see it as an opportunity to make a fundamental impact on the business.'

There is a growing choice of grade-A office buildings in decentralised locations and moving there can considerably reduce the rental cost for a large company, he adds.

Adam Mundy, M Moser's director, design international, says companies relocating to a decentralised area should reinvest some of the savings into creating convenience for their staff.

'People lose time because their commute takes longer and lose lifestyle choices available at a central location,' he says. 'Employers should make up for that and give them more choice at their workplace.'

Usually, companies provide cafeteria and food service, dry-cleaning pick-up, banking facilities and shuttle buses. Smaller companies are better suited to moving to cheaper parts of town.

'The case of a smaller company moving to a remote location may not generate the desired savings, since transportation time and costs to their clients plus other inconveniences can increase too much to offset the reduced cost of the office space,' Mundy says.

He adds that when designing new facilities or redesigning an office, management should be closely involved and provide leadership.

M Moser's research looks outwards, and checks what the same company does in other locations, such as its office designs in different countries, what its competitors do and what companies in different industries do before benchmarking all the design features.

M Moser also helps organisations look within themselves and tries to understand company culture, workflow, who needs to be sitting close to whom and how the business might change in the next five years.

Redesign offers a chance to align the company with its culture. Legere recalls that on a recent project, while the company talked about innovation, collaboration, knowledge sharing and transparency, the office was in fact characterised by entitlement, status and supervision.

Yet, the company can now use the cost equation to change the company culture they were unable to do for some time.

An open-floor design not only saves space and money, but also allows the free flow of information and supports good communication and collaboration.